P Chidambaram, who is already in trouble on account of several irregularities during his tenure as the finance minister under the UPA government, seems to be in the midst of yet another controversy. The CBI has filed a supplementary charge-sheet before the Patiala House Court listing P. Chidambaram as an accused in the Aircel-Maxis case. Karti Chidambaram was already an accused in the said case and the matter is now fixed for July 31 when the Court will take cognisance of the supplementary chargesheet filed by the investigation agency.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lists P Chidambaram as an accused in the supplementary charge sheet filed in Aircel Maxis case in Delhi's Patiala House Court, Karti Chidambaram was already an accused in the case. Patiala House Court to take cognizance on July 31
— ANI (@ANI) July 19, 2018
Apart from the father-son duo, ten other individuals have been chargesheeted in this case including former economic affairs secretary Ashok Jha and the then additional secretary of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, Ashok Chawla on allegations of bribery in the Aircel-Maxis deal. CBI has only charged two serving IAS officers in this case. Apart from this, Karti’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, Malaysian tycoon T Ananda Krishnan and his key aide Ralph Marshall have also been listed as accused by the CBI in its chargesheet.
In its chargesheet filed before the special judge O P Saini, the CBI has contended that P. Chidambaram and all the other accused entered into a “criminal conspiracy”. CBI has also alleged that the then union finance minister, P. Chidambaram had abused his official position from 2006 to 2012. The chargesheet states that, “Investigation has established that the accused persons… entered into a criminal conspiracy among themselves during the year 2006 to 2012 and in pursuance thereof, accused P Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister, by abusing his official position, dishonestly and fraudulently granted approval to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) proposal of M/S Global Communication, Malaysia for foreign investment of U$800 million (Rs 3,560 crore) for which he was not competent.”
The gist of the matter is that Chidambaram granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm. However, this power is vested only in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). The question, therefore, that arises is how could Chidambaram grant this approval. CBI claims that during its investigations it was established that P. Chidambaram received illegal gratification to the tune of Rs 26,00,444 for granting a fraudulent approval through his son Karti Chidambaram in the company M/S Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd which is owned by Karti on the pretext of providing consultancy services to M/s Aircel Televentures Ltd.
The chargesheet lists alleged offences of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, public servant taking illegal gratification, punishment for abetting this offence, and public servant committing criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act. These are serious offences pointing towards gross irregularities. While P. Chidambaram took to twitter claiming that the CBI had been pressurised into filing this chargesheet and dismissed it as a political gimmick it is clear that the Congress and Chidambaram are under immense pressure.
Chidambaram has time and again come in spotlight for alleged irregularities during his tenure as the finance minister and this latest development only adds up to his woes. In 2014, financial impropriety by the then UPA government had turned out to be the biggest reason for its humiliating defeat and now it seems that 2019 will be no different. It’s been 4 years since the UPA was thrown out of power but its irregularities are still surfacing and it is clear that its misdeeds are going to hurt the Congress politically for a long time to come.
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